Mon, Oct 03, 2011 - Page 12 News List

Housing sales fall amid uncertainty

VOLATILITY:The reintroduction of unpaid leave at science parks in Hsinchu and Greater Taichung is likely to weaken sales in places where transactions have so far remained steady

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff Reporter

Taiwan’s housing transactions fell last month from one month earlier, as global financial market turmoil dampened investor confidence, major real-estate agencies said.

Sinyi Realty Inc (信義房屋), the nation’s only listed real estate broker, saw its sales drop 8 percent in Taipei City and 13 percent in New Taipei City last month, from August, the company said in a statement.

Stanley Su (蘇啟榮), head of Sinyi’s research department, said the decline was mainly the result of equity corrections across global bourses last month, during which the TAIEX shed 6.67 percent, or 515.98 points, to finish at 7,225.38 at the close of trade on Friday.

Foreign investors slashed NT$78.68 billion (US$2.58 billion) in net local shares last month, after cutting NT$190.35 billion net holdings one month earlier, Taiwan Stock Exchange data indicated.

Houses priced at NT$20 million or lower accounted for 75 percent of Sinyi’s transactions as people favored cash over aggressive real -estate investments amid growing economic uncertainty, Su said.

The cautious sentiment drove up inquiries for two-bedroom apartments valued at between NT$12 million and NT$22 million among first-time home buyers, Su said.

Prices were likely to remain flat or fall slightly on a negative wealth effect in the coming months, he said, while young married couples and people intent on tying the knot would support the market.

Taiwanese like to get married toward the end of the year and home purchases are considered important in building families.

H&B Realty Co (住商不動產), the nation’s largest real-estate broker by number of franchises, reported a 5 percent fall in housing transactions last month, with the Greater Taipei area accounting for most of that, the broker said in a statement.

“More and more people share the view that cash is king after the global bourses tumbled last month,” Hsu said. “The strengthening US dollar is luring global capital away from emerging markets, including Taiwan, leaving real -estate assets less attractive.”

Hsu, who had previously expected the housing market to bounce back this quarter, now holds a neutral view.

The return of unpaid leave at science-based parks in Hsinchu and Taichung is also likely to weaken home sales in those areas, where transactions have so far been less affected by the introduction of a luxury tax in June because of their relative affordability, Hsu said.

Low-priced units near public transportation will be the mainstay in the coming months, while inquiries about upscale housing are likely to turn sluggish, she said.

Evertrust Rehouse Co (永慶房屋), the nation’s largest real-estate broker by number of outlets, said transactions remained unchanged in last month from August as customers regained some of their confidence, following auctions of commercial properties over the last two weeks that drew record offers.

However, overall sales at Evertrust lagged behind the January level by 30 percent after reports that the luxury tax was starting to impact sales in February, Everstrust associate manager Jeffery Huang (黃增福) said.

The market is unlikely to recover fully until the eurozone shows signs of stabilization from its debt crisis, Huang said.

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